In 2007, a black and white video of a philosophical black and white cat named Henri changed cat videos forever. Millions of views and legions of fans later, Henri has charmed cat lovers with his unique brand of wisdom laced with existential angst. The perfect accompaniment to the videos or more accurately films, arrived earlier this year as a book Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat. It’s smart, acerbically funny and chock-full of photos and witticisms of droll Henri and his fur bro, a white cat he calls l’imbecile blanc.

Henri le Chat Noir

Henri or Henry as he’s known to intimates has an interpreter, narrator and director, the writer and filmmaker Will Braden. He’s a 33-year-old lifelong cat lover based in Seattle with degrees in film and music and a self-deprecating wit who calls himself “The Thieving Filmmaker”. I interviewed him at the recent Friskies Awards in New York and we chatted at length this week. He has a dry deadpan humor that cracked this reporter up more than once.

The Friskies judges interviewed by Layla Morgan Wilde

Life is never black and white for Will who has a new cat named Nin, named after the French writer Anais Nin. The cat is frisky teenager, part Bengal and bound for stardom in the new year. Stay tuned. I’ll be doing a feature article about Will, his new projects and what it means to be a cat man, but a short Q + A will have to suffice today.

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The video that launched a feline philosopher’s empire.
 

Q. + A. with Layla Morgan Wilde and Will Braden

Will Braden

 

LMW: Who is your favorite Nouvelle Vague film and director?

WB: Oh, François Truffaut for sure. The 400 Blows is just so amazing. Jean Renoir is also great, and I think he was one of the first few real geniuses of cinema, that saw it could be as important an art form as literature or painting. I think Le Grande Illusion is up there with any great work of art in any medium.

 

LMW: Favorite philosopher?

WB: As much as Henri is an existentialist, I am definitely not. I guess I’m more of a Thoreau/Emerson transcendentalist. I’m not so concerned with whether or not my hand exists, just what I ought to be doing with it.

 

LMW: Have you been to France? How is Henri and your films received there?

WB: I have been to France a few times, but not since the success of the Henri films. I think I would be ashamed to admit that the butchered French was mine. Although I should say that French people who have contacted me about the films are generally pretty forgiving of the French. They see it as “so bad it’s funny”, for the most part. It’s the Americans who speak French that give me a hard time.

 

LMW: Do you think cats have souls and if so, do they have an after life or reincarnate? Who might Henri been in another life?

WB: I think if we have souls, cats must have them as well. Theirs are just furrier. I suppose Henri could be a reincarnation of Albert Camus’ cat, Stranger.

French philosopher Albert Camus and his cat Stranger

LMW: What famous cat lover/artist/writer/musician or filmmaker, dead or alive would you love to meet?

WB: Lous Wain was a great artist and cat lover, I think he would be fascinating to meet. As for living, that is very easy. The artist who’s influenced my life and work more than any other, Bill Watterson, the creator of “Calvin & Hobbes”. I think he’s an absolute genius, and I have trouble finding anything in my life, attitude, sense of humor or intellect that can’t be traced back to obsessively reading Calvin & Hobbes as a kid.

 

LMW: It’s increasingly hot or hip to be a cat man: have you always been one and how do woman perceive you differently since the Henri fame?

WB: I have always been a crazy cat lady trapped in a man’s body! I can’t say how I’m perceived differently after Henri fame (it is, after all, his fame and not mine), but it’s always nice to be doing something fun for a living, and having success at it.

 

 LMW: Why do you think cats ate culturally hot and growing hotter?

WB: I think people have always loved cats, and there has always been that cultural undercurrent of cat devotees. The difference is that now the stigma is crumbling away, and it’s cool to be a crazy cat person.

 

 Will is generously offering Cat Wisdom 101 readers an exclusive giveaway prize sure to brighten the most  cat lover One lucky reader will win an autographed copy of Henri Le Chat Noir, an Henri t-shirt and 2014 calendar. To enter our giveaway simply leave a comment before 11:59 pm ET, Dec.1, 2013.

For extra chances to win, subscribe to Cat Wisdom 101, follow Cat Wisdom 101 on Facebook  Twitter @catwisdom101 or social media share and tell us in a separate comment where you shared or followed. Thanks and good luck, bon chance!

To learn more about Henri, the videos and what’s in his shop, visit the official website Henrilechatnoir.com

If you feel like you must have an immediate jolt to cure your ennui, visit Amazon and look inside the book. better yet, buy it. Will donates a portion of all sales to animal rescue. A favorite cause of his in Seattle is PAWS.org

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183 thoughts on “Henri le Chat Noir Giveaway and Q & A with Will Braden”

  1. Henry looks very mysterious. He’s very handsome and would love to win him. I love your articles you post and the pictures. So unique. Happy holidays!

  2. Realy would love to read the book love all books true stories about cats. Too bad for me the cost of a book it so far out of my incomes reach. And when you got 6 kitties on no grain food theres no way any money left for a new or even used book. Lol

  3. We love Henri and his growing ennui. I think he is bringing attention to adoption of shelter cats. After all HE was a shelter cat. Adoption is a very positive thing for all the homeless cats. You may not get a kitty with as much angst as Henry, you may get an imbecile. But all kitties are wonderful.

  4. Oh Henri, we love you. My niece and nephew are kids but they love Henri!! We watch the episodes and text each other and discuss Henri and his growing ennui. Thank you Mr Braden, I think your work is giving many more shelter cats a chance. After all Henri WAS a shelter kitty. I hope Henri will keep making films, he brings so much happiness to so many. Thank you.

  5. I am particular about the cats I follow—-maine coon tuxedos specificially! Upon moving from California to New Mexico, we chose to leave our Tuxedo with caring neighbors, to prevent coyotes from attacking him. I miss him so much ;( We named him LC for Library Cat since he resembled our local library’s resident cat, then that name evolved into Pud, for Puddy Tat. He was larger than our new bichon frise puppy and would ever-so-gently place his large paw atop the puppy’s head to inform the rascal that HE was there first! What a funny partnership they made. Watching Henri videos returns a little of the joy I once felt…so glad I found you through my son’s link to your youtube vids. Thank you!

  6. Hobbes cannot be trumped; I totally agree. HOWEVER, Henri cannot be surpassed & WB should be severely chastised for even thinking otherwise! I am appalled at the very idea.

  7. Have enjoyed Henri’s videos for years and now enjoy him on Facebook, too!
    Thanks, Will, for a wonderful escape. I look forward to your next video.

  8. Henri is an inspiration to Minnie Pearl and Charlie Two Dot. They also suffer as the birds outside at the feeder mock their captivity.

  9. I absolutely love Henri and Will and have thoroughly enjoyed watching their success grow and grow. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer cat or Thieving Filmaker. I follow Henri on Facebook and collect merchandise from the store. Waiting for my 2014 Calendar now. Hugs to Henri and I’d be honored to shake Will’s hand.

  10. Oh Henri, I feel your pain: as the 60s group Stealers Wheel sang: “clowns to the right of me, jokers to the left of me, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” Side note, per your excellent suggestion, I ordered your tshirt and went as Crippling Self Doubt for Halloween!

  11. Henri’s musings in Facebook always make my day. Je t’adore, Henri, bien que c’est sans importance. (My French is also trés terrible…).

  12. Oh Henri, your suffering for all our sakes should result in Sainthood and daily tuna rations but I am afraid we require your continued exploitation to give our meaningless lives a glimmer of intelligence and fun. My sincerest apologies for your continued suffering.

  13. Henri is my hero! Simplez!

    BTW For some reason some of your pictures are kind of opaque, like they have a film over! – can’t properly see the four seated around the table for instance!!

  14. I live in a very dog-friendly neighborhood and cannot help but think “I am surrounded by morons” every time I see someone walking their dog –which is pretty much every time I leave my apartment.

  15. I watched the videos so many times, I love Henri! Thank you Will Braden for finally letting the clueless humans know what cats are really thinking (except for les imbeciles blancs, of course.)

  16. I liked you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter and Pinterest, and subscribed on You Tube.

    Henri, le Chat Noir, and his thieving filmmaker, Will Braden, are both fine fellows.

  17. I love Henri, and so does my cat Bert. (Henri and Bert share many of the same opinions.) I’d love to win and Bert thinks the calendar would be perfect for the Sleepy Cat.

  18. I have had the great pleasure of listening to Will tell folks about Henri’s ruse to kitty superstar. It seems to me furthering filmmaker is at heart a pretty generous and self-deprecating man.

  19. Free Henri stuff? Oh, yes, please! I have the book and a T-shirt, but my sister covets them. If I won, I’d share with her, but I would keep the calendar for myself!
    I follow Henri on Facebook. He provides many laughs.
    Thanks, Cat Wisdom 101, Will and Henri!

  20. I have posted the give-away on Facebook. More’s the pity. But what one one expect from us humans? Always grubbing for more cool stuff. I have no shame.

  21. Henri’s musings are both hysterical and spot on. I would love to win the book . Hopefully my own cats will not be jealous!

  22. My five cats are upset that Henri’s things are being given away but I want them anyhow. So it goes. I will post this on Facebook as well. Hey! Stop clawing me!

  23. Henri deserves all the accolates he’s received so far; I think he should also be up for an Emmy or Oscar in “leading role”.

    And congrats Will, on all your success.

    Best wishes, from the housemate of a Norwegian Forest Cat living in the midwest.

  24. Fluffer-Nutter, the cat who cohabits this house, arrived from a shelter 15 years ago replete with worms, mites and a feral Okie background. Having missed human contact during the critical two-to-seven-week window of socialization, she regards humans as aliens to be tolerated and made useful. She dwells in an existential space similar to that of Henri, disconnected from humanity, bored with Sisyphusian toys, in a gustatory rut because of pickiness, yet forever overgrooming (and coughing up hairballs) because of an uber-shaggy coat and fundamental insecurities. Deeply sympathize.

  25. Though we live in the same city, have never met Mr. Braden or Henri. Thoroughly enjoy reading about Henri and his videos. Just don’t let our dog know please!

  26. We love Henri and look forward to each morsel of wisdom that comes from him. Too bad the TF has tried to get into the act, but we can see through that!

  27. I love your book, and my beautiful kitty Drewe watches Henri’s videos with me. She looks very much like him, but in a feminine way of course. My other two could care less. They are trying to figure out what ennui is and why anyone would want it if it’s not edible!

  28. My vet told me I regained my cat lady title after I adopted a pair of orphaned sibling kittens, both black and white. I’m a huge Henri fan!

  29. Henri has taught me so much about life, ennui, and the pain my cat Sampson must endure living with us day in and day out. I would love to win this even though I’m sure Sampson will hardly be moved when I show it to him.

  30. will, i Need to win this prize. henri would agree if his ennui was lifted for the blink of an eye. my cat and i are having to move and we are having trouble even lifting a paw to organize or pack or even think about any of the above. save us please from a destitute life of being carelessly tossed out onto the street. no filtered water, no bed, no warmth. have pity on us, please.

  31. Henri understands me. I would love to share his wisdom with others. Having a copy of Will’s book would allow me to do this while expending the least amount of energy possible.

  32. Henri, your ennui is that of a true connoisseur: elegant, thoughtful, deep enough in which to drown. My blue Burmese (Sophonisba) is in like with you (never, never would she deign to admit to love…). So, against all odds, just as in life, I am entering this amazing, yet complex contest (be kind to the thieving filmmaker – he admires Bill Watterson so he must be one of the Good Humans).

  33. I am a chien person and am in fact allergic to cats. However, je t’aime Henri. Much as I love dogs, I must admit that cats are the more intellectual species.

  34. Oh how I love Henri..I feel for him amongst the human population..such trials and tribulations he goes through.

    Signed the owner of Jill, Pixie (meow)

  35. I have shared Henri’s wisdom and am glad to say I have hooked others on his …
    errr … subtle charm.
    Here’s hoping I win the give-away!

  36. I watch all Henri videos, yet my I am not satisfied. My cat interests remain unfulfilled. Winning this contest is banal, but it is my only chance to lift me from this ennui.

  37. I love Henri and his musings. I strive not to laugh at his pain, but I must admit that the slam into the cat door (I forget which video) was a nice catch for the thieving film director!

  38. Oh, Henri. I had just discovered you when the Internet Cat Video Fest took the Walker by storm 2 years ago. My 13-year-old tuxedo cat flips between ennui and malice, so we did not attend, but one of us was very pleased with your win!

  39. My boys and I love Calvin & Hobbes and now love Henri. How sweet it would be to have Henri’s book to put beside all the Calvin & Hobbes books I own.

    And I even enjoy l’imbecile blanc.

  40. I completely missed the Henri phenomenon. Just discovered yesterday, as one of my clients (i am a petsitter) had his book on display. Now I’m playing catch-up with all of his films. Having a great time!

    Thanks!

  41. I have loved and admired Henri since I was first introduced to him (virtually) by my sister. I have passed on that love to others, particularly to my wife.

  42. Henri’s posts are a ‘ray of sunshine on a cloudy day’. I am owned by two black cats, and my friends and I often exchange Henri’s deep thoughts. Keep up the great work.

  43. Layla I loved this Q & A with Will! He is one of my favorite cat-loving celebs! Your interviews and Q & A’s with people are fun, REAL (a lot of interviewers are self-seeking, but you are genuine!) and informative. Sorry I have been out of touch…I was down with the flu all last week. Hope you are well…keep on being amazing!

  44. I love sweet Henri! I would love to have a copy of his book and calendar, and a t-shirt would be really fun to! Good interview, thanks!

  45. Oh my heavens! another “Cat Man” and successful author,filmmaker that gives to help those in need……be still my heart!!!!!
    We adore Henri, le Chat Noir!!! Hoorayyyyyyyyyyyyyy for Will Braden!!! Cat man all the way! We would adore winning the book,T-shirt and calendar!!!!
    Luvs to Henri and Will
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Peanut and Twig >^@@^< reading glasses on!

  46. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Henri! And I would love to win, so thanks so much Layla! And I love that Mr. Braden’s inspired by Bill Watterson, who is a genius too. Popular culture cats are flat, unimaginative pedestrian figures compared to them.

  47. Wow, super amazing life of the ultra hip Henri and the most amazing Will. So cool. So very ultra. cool. Cats and French and films! What could be more perfect than a perfect trio!

    I adore the man already!

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